Is Jesus the Narrow Path or the Highway?

By: Clay Longoi Ngondi
From: March - April 2014
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
The Bible talks about “the Narrow path”, “the Broad way” and “the Highway”. It is important to understand what they represent and which one is our way today.

The synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke do not hide the fact that Jesus’ ministry, while on earth before the cross, centered mainly on Jews. The Jews, who were few and the minority as compared to the gentiles, had a way of salvation, by keeping the Law, which without doubt excluded all gentiles.-Ephesians 2:11-13.

When the rich young ruler approached Jesus in Luke 18:18 asking, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus quickly referred him to the keeping of commandments, a practice the Jews have been trying since the days of Moses. The young man, deceiving himself all his life that he has been keeping the commandments perfectly, went away downcast and frustrated when Jesus proved him otherwise! So sad!

Jesus, on his first coming, had to first of all acknowledge the Law by pointing it to the Jews as a way of salvation. He then raised the standard for them to prove that it was not only difficult but inaccessible! In fact when someone asked Him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”, Jesus urged the Jews to strive to enter the narrow door. He cautioned them that many of them will seek to enter but will not be able. – Luke 13:23-24. “To strive” is to force oneself through with great determination depicting self-effort.

Beyond the Pharisees’ standard

Touching on keeping of the Law, in Matthew 5:20, Jesus paints a clear picture of those days, portraying the Pharisees and teachers of the Law as leading the pack in the exercise. Ordinary Jews highly regarded them when it came to supervision and keeping of the Law. But Jesus throws a wrench into their work by suggesting that if the Jews were to enter the Kingdom of heaven, then their righteousness was to surpass that of the highly regarded and revered Pharisees! Note that Jesus does not say that their righteousness should match that of the Pharisees. NO! It should go beyond their set standard.

Jesus does not say that their righteousness should match that of the Pharisees. NO! It should go beyond their set standard.

This simply means that even though they had set a standard, the standard set was not enough to qualify them entry into the Kingdom of heaven! Nevertheless they had always deceived not only others but themselves that they kept the law accordingly. That is why Jesus had to revise the Law for them, taking it a notch higher than their set standard showing them how short they had fallen from God’s standard. – Matthew 5:21-48. Jesus concludes his challenge by saying “be perfect therefore as your father is perfect.”. But the writer of Hebrews asks, “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the Law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come – one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? ...the former regulation was set aside because it was weak and useless (for the Law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced by which we draw near to God.” - Heb 7:11, 18-19, NIV. Although the Jews had a narrow way of accessing God through priests and burnt offerings, Jesus came to introduce a better way of drawing near to God for all mankind.

Jesus clearly assures the Jews that many will try to enter through the narrow door but would not be able!

   
                                                                                                             

The “Narrow Door”

When you read further in Luke 13:25 – 30, if you are not careful, you will be misled to understand that the “closed door” mentioned in verse twenty-five is the same door Jesus describes as “narrow” in the previous verse. Jesus clearly assures the Jews that many will try to enter through the narrow door but would not be able! However, He continues to say that many people will come from the east, west, north and the south to enter God’s Kingdom through this “other” door. We might say that here Jesus does not talk about a physical door in heaven, but rather about Himself being the Door. John 10:9.This other door that the Jews will have over looked at first (but acknowledge at the end), will cause the Jews, who were first to listen and be with Christ, to become the last to enter the Kingdom. In this passage, the “narrow door” and the “closed door” are therefore actually two different doors.

Jesus portrays Himself as the “other” door that for a season will usher in many people from the four corners of the earth but will at the end be closed.

Simply put, the “narrow door” is related to   “keeping the Law”, which many will try but will not be able to do.  While on the other hand, Jesus portrays Himself as the “other” door that for a season will usher in many people from the four corners of the earth but will at the end be closed.

In Matthew 8:10-12, Jesus is greatly astonished at the Roman centurion, a gentile, who due to his high regard of Jesus found it easy to believe in Him. Unlike many of the Jews, who having a way of relating to God through the priests and their regular burnt offerings, mistook Him for just another Rabbi! The Jews were so embedded in their old covenant ordinances and their struggle to keep the Law that they missed seeing Jesus for who He was and what He had come for. This made Jesus caution them in Luke 13:28 that they risked being shut out of God’s Kingdom although they were the actual descendants of Abraham. They thought that being descendants of Abraham gave them an automatic entry!

They had to believe in Christ Jesus who came to be the only way to relate to God.

The Jews were so embedded in their old covenant ordinances and their struggle to keep the Law that they missed seeing Jesus for who He was and what He had come for.

In fact when it comes to the real descendants of Abraham, the apostle Paul emphasizes to the Galatians that, only those of Faith are the Children of Abraham and that the Law is not based on FaithGal 3:7,12. “But the scripture declares that the whole World is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this Faith came, we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until Faith should be revealed”Gal 3:22-25. This is what most Jews found hard to accept. They now had to turn away from trusting in their old covenant sacrifices and observances of the Law as their way of relating to God and instead embrace faith in Christ as the new and only way of relating and accessing God’s blessings not only for them but gentiles as well! It appeared unbelievable for the Jews!

When Jesus was on the earth, many Jews had given up hope in trying to keep the Law. Many of them were living in total disregard of the Law. For Jesus to bring in a new way that would include gentiles, He had to pass the old difficult way successfully. In other words, He had to fulfill the Law perfectly in order to abolish it as the way of salvation for the Jews.

He had to fulfill the Law perfectly in order to abolish it as the way of salvation for the Jews.

When Jesus was on the earth, many Jews had given up hope in trying to keep the Law. Many of them were living in total disregard of the Law. For Jesus to bring in a new way that would include gentiles, He had to pass the old difficult way successfully. In other words, He had to fulfill the Law perfectly in order to abolish it as the way of salvation for the Jews. – Colossians 2:14. Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians, who are gentiles, that Jesus did abolish it in His crucifixion. The Law, with its commandments, stood as a barrier between the Jews and Gentiles, and thereby created enmity between the two. Jesus’ purpose was to create one new man out of the two. In their union it would reconcile both of them to God by the way of the cross - bringing an end their hostility! – Ephesians 2:14-16. In the gospel of John 14:6, amazingly, Jesus declares boldly, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the father except through me!” No one here is actually both Jews and Gentiles.

Deuteronomy 30:13-20, clearly shows that keeping the Law was given to Jews as a way to life while failure to keep the Law was the way to destruction. In Matthew 7:13-14, keeping the Law is compared to a narrow path in the sense that it had a lot of restrictions and requirements. Only a few of the Jews attempted to dare it, while living in disregard of the Law was compared to a broad way.

The “Broad way”

The broad way should not be mistaken for the highway in our subject of discussion. Proverbs 14:12 says, “there is a Way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.” The broad way is simply choosing to live one’s life independent of God rather than dependent on God!

The broad way is simply choosing to live one’s life independent of God rather than dependent on God!

Matthew 7:13-14 records Jesus putting into comparison the narrow path and the broad way. Jesus seems to suggest that many people shunned the narrow path because of its design. It was not only restricted to many but even the few who dared found it extremely difficult to follow. Worse still, Jesus goes ahead to emphasize that for some people to attempt the narrow path would be like trying to get a whole living camel through the eye of a needle! – Luke 18:25. You may not be shocked but the disciples of Jesus were! They clearly understood that it was practically impossible and asked Jesus in amazement,  “who then can be saved!?!” – Luke 18:26.

The narrow path was given by God through Moses but Jesus came as the Way that takes away the difficulties of the narrow way!

It is very clear that by this time Jesus had not yet been crucified in order to reconcile the world to God. Neither had He shed His blood for the remission of the sin of the world – 2Cor 5:19,21. Therefore, you will agree with me that the narrow path is man’s ability to keep all the requirements of the Law of Moses in order to be blessed by God and earn eternal Life. John 1:17 –  “For the Law was given through Moses but Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The narrow path was given by God through Moses but Jesus came as the Way that takes away the difficulties of the narrow way! – Col 2:13-15.

The Highway

The prophet Isaiah proclaims a highway of salvation, a highway of holiness, where whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray! - Isaiah 35:8-10. In this highway the ransomed of the Lord shall return to Zion with singing and everlasting joy on their heads.

In this highway the ransomed of the Lord shall return to Zion with singing and everlasting joy on their heads.

They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away! When John the Baptist makes his dramatic appearance more than 500 years later, he seems to have come to launch a construction of the highway described by Isaiah. When Luke reports, he does not mince his words; he says that John the Baptist actually quoted Isaiah the prophet in Luke 3:4-6. The problem is, unlike Jesus, John the Baptist says that by this highway not only a few but rather all flesh shall see the salvation of God! Could something be badly wrong with Luke? When the Philippian jailer asked Paul the same question the rich young ruler asked Jesus in Acts 16:30-31, Luke reports that Paul and Silas answered him, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.” This is many years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Christ.

Could the narrow, difficult path that Jesus pointed out to the rich young ruler have now been made wide, valleys filled, mountains brought low, crooked places made straight and smooth? Could this be what the prophet Isaiah saw and John the Baptist eventually proclaimed in Luke 3:4-6? John the Baptist went further when he pointed at Jesus on the banks of the Jordan River and kind of hinted He is the cost-bearer when he said, “...the lamb that takes away the Sin of the World.” The Philippian jailer needs to do nothing but believe in Jesus’ finished work of the cross and have a joyous smooth free ride on this highway straight into eternity with God the father!

Could the narrow, difficult path that Jesus pointed out to the rich young ruler have now been made wide, valleys filled, mountains brought low, crooked places made straight and smooth?

If you think I am crazy, then try the writer of Hebrews who says that Jesus made a NEW and living WAY which he CONSECRATED for us by His FLESH! - Heb 10:19-20. My earnest prayer is that all gospel preachers will have the veil of Moses lifted from their minds in the reading of the scriptures. This will enable the Church, which is the body of Christ, to discover and understand the New Covenant in its fullness as the apostle Paul emphasizes in 2Cor 3:14-17. When the veil is taken away, you get to see that Jesus is the highway of Salvation! There is no more striving to enter; you only believe in the FINISHED WORK OF THE CROSS and you are SAVED, HEALED AND PROSPERED! - All in one package.
Those whose veils have been taken away depend entirely on what Jesus has done for them to be accepted and be blessed by God thereby entering into God’s Rest At Christ’s Expense - G.R.A.C.E. This is God’s highway of salvation!

On the other hand, you could be deceived to try and earn God’s blessings by taking it upon yourself to make God accept and bless you according to your good works -  thereby preferring the Narrow difficult path. In fact, if you are not a Jew by birth it was never meant for you in the first place! As for the Jews by birth, the narrow path - which is seeking to be justified by your good works - has already fulfilled its purpose which was to identify the expected Messiah, Savior of both Jews and Gentiles who is Jesus the Christ – Galatians 3:23-26. Jesus came and took the narrow path on your behalf.

The good news is that the narrow path is obsolete; that is, no longer valid. It has disappeared! – Heb 8:13. Do not gamble your eternity - take the highway. Remember, your eternity begins HERE and NOW!

 

By: Clay Longoi Ngondi

Teaching Evangelist, Mombasa, Kenya, E.Africa.

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